Another Day, Another Glorious Failure

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by DesertPilot, Nov 16, 2019.

  1. DesertPilot

    DesertPilot Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 18, 2014
    Oddometer:
    661
    Location:
    Mountain View, CA
    Today’s mission was to ride the Ducati Scrambler to New Idria. Why, you may ask, did I want to ride the Scrambler to New Idria? Did I feel some compelling need to visit abandoned mercury mines? Was this part of some plan to tour all of America’s Superfund sites? And how could I hope to reach a destination that was far outside my fuel range on a road that was far above my skill level? A man must have a dream!

    To set the stage, here’s a photo before I set out. In keeping with the ‘toxic waste’ theme of this mission, I’ve included my neigbbor’s trash can.

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    f you plan to explore the Panoche area – particularly if you’re on a bike with a 120 mile range – it’s essential to fill up at the country store in sunny Tres Pinos. This is the Last Gas Station On Earth. If you pass it by, hoping to find another, Darwin will pick your bones.

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    The Tres Pinos Water District building is across the street. I think it deserves a photo. You won’t find anything like this at Facebook, Apple, or Google!

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    The turnoff for Panoche is five miles past the Last Gas Station On Earth. That’s where the fun begins. When I rode this road on my Tiger, it was glorious. Surely it would be even more fun on a bike with a much stiffer spring rate, much firmer shocks, and 2/3 the suspension travel. Or so I thought. A valuable lesson awaited me.

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    By the time I reached the top of the first twisty bit, I had learned the error of my ways. I also wished I’d packed a spare set of kidneys. I considered calling it a day and slinking home with my tail between my legs, but.. slinking,… where’s the fun int hat? Also, it would have been a crime against the Awesome Landscape Gods to turn back on a road like this, so I gritted my teeth and pressed on. Well, actually, I didn’t grit my teeth, since I wanted to keep them, but you get the idea.

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    After a certain amount of joy and abuse – the moto equivalent of S&M, perhaps – I reached what had always been the realistic goal for the day: the Griswold Hills Day Use Area. I have no idea who Griswold was, or what he used these hills for during the day, but every time I’m here, I stop, get off the bike, look around, and think, “Who would ever believe that all this empty landscape is only an hour and half ride from Silicon Valley?”

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    More griswolds. Perhaps this wasn’t a name. Perhaps it’s a noun meaning something like ‘a region of empty landscape only an hour and half ride from Silicon Valley’.

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    I still had 10-15 miles before I was down to half tank, so I decided to press on. I had no hope of reaching the end of the county maintained road, which is where the fun really begins for people who – unlike me – actually know how to ride, but I was curious to see how far I could get. Also, I couldn’t turn back yet. Would you?

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    That’s it. That’s as far as I got. The mission was a pointless failure in the middle of nowhere. But it was great pointless failure, and doing it on what might not have been the best possible bike for the job was character-building experience.

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    #1
    Solo Gato, JeepDawg, Bors and 9 others like this.
  2. DesertPilot

    DesertPilot Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 18, 2014
    Oddometer:
    661
    Location:
    Mountain View, CA
    I built a bit more character on the way home, and I must say I love this road, kidneys and all.

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    And here’s the mandatory Photograph Of Food to wrap up the ride report – Cafe Borone’s meatball sandwich, brownie, and a glass of iced tea, with beer (not pictured) waiting for when I got home.
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    #2
    Solo Gato, lvscrvs, krussell and 7 others like this.
  3. pjgoeman

    pjgoeman Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2017
    Oddometer:
    137
    Location:
    Lafayette, CO
    Loved it! I added it to my must see rides :imaposer
    #3
  4. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    May 28, 2008
    Oddometer:
    14,080
    Location:
    Huntsville , Al
    You have no idea who Griswold was! Have you never seen National Lampoon's Vacation series? I'm sure it was Clark Griswold who discovered this area on one of his vacations:imaposer
    #4
  5. DesertPilot

    DesertPilot Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 18, 2014
    Oddometer:
    661
    Location:
    Mountain View, CA
    You owe it to yourself to give that Panoche road a try. The eastern portion, coming in from from I-5, is even better. There's other neat stuff back there as well, like the road to Mercy Hot Springs and the famed Panoche Inn, whose days and hours of operation are reportedly subject to the whims of the 8 or so inhabitants of Panoche. I may do a ride report on those someday.

    If you want to give New Idria a go, the road leads south from the inn for 20 miles or so, until it reaches a sign that says, "End of County Maintained Road. If you're as bad a rider as that lad who came through here on the Triumph Tiger two years ago and ride even one single inch past this sign, you will rue the consequences." Don't ask me how I know this :D I'd love to give it a try on an XT250 someday. If I could sort out the gas situation. And had an XT250...
    #5
  6. dpaolini

    dpaolini Slow is smooth and smooth if fast

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2018
    Oddometer:
    33
    Location:
    Royal Oaks
    Just so you know, there are many fueling options and food just a quick ride out to the interstate about 10 miles or so off Panoche Road. The turn off is just past the elementary school. It's paved for about a mile than easy graded gravel with a creek crossing. Not too difficult in the dry season. I've hesitated to cross it in spring time though. New Idria is definitely worth the trip although with soon to be rains I would hesitate to travel in there with out suitable tires. It gets rutted up pretty good. Also to enter legally into the BLM section you are required to obtain a permit, you can travel up to the small reservoir which is just before the gate without a permit. You can check it out on the BLM website. Maps are available.
    #6
  7. DesertPilot

    DesertPilot Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 18, 2014
    Oddometer:
    661
    Location:
    Mountain View, CA
    I quite agree about the 'suitable tires' bit. And yes... those ruts... There will be no photographs or ride report of that particular (mis)adventure :D
    #7
  8. Karlfitt

    Karlfitt Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2013
    Oddometer:
    2,260
    Location:
    Colorado
    With only a 120 mile range, there are a few stretches of road in Nevada you shouldn't even try.

    Nice report BTW
    #8
  9. RedDogAlberta

    RedDogAlberta High Plains Drifter

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2009
    Oddometer:
    20,690
    Location:
    Edmonton, Alberta
    I don't mind Scramblers. They kind of remind me of Sportsters.
    #9
  10. wadethewanderer

    wadethewanderer To infinity and beyond. Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2017
    Oddometer:
    270
    Location:
    West of Wilmington, north of Myrtle Beach
    Great writing style, love the humor. Reminds me of my own limitations. Bolt-on a couple of gallons of fuel and go for it. Great photos as well.
    #10